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Sweet powers to Devil's Bowl opening round prize

Sweet powers to Devil's Bowl opening round prize

By Alex Nieten, WOO Sprint Series PR (Mesquite, TX) -- After knocking down the door to his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car win of the season last week, Brad\

Thornton sails to victory at Lucas Oil Speedway

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Carter holds off Berry at Ark-La-Tex Speedway

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B Force, Pedregon, Caruso lead NHRA Qualifying

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By NHRA (Pomona, CA) -- Reigning Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force powered to the provisional No. 1 spot on Friday, making the quickest run of the day to kick off the Luc\

Dillard does it again at Ark-La-Tex Speedway

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Capital City Legend Passes: Thad Dosher 1935-2021

Capital City Legend Passes: Thad Dosher 1935-2021

By Ray Cunningham - Racing out of his adopted hometown of Topeka, Kansas, Thad Dosher was one of the true greats of open wheel racing in 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, winning both the Knoxville Nationals and the IMCA National Championship during his illustrious career. Here’s a look at the legendary driver who passed away over the weekend.


Hall of Fame racer Thad Dosher was born in 1935 in Southport, North Carolina. In 1953 he came to Topeka, Kansas, where he was stationed at the Forbes Air Force Base South of town. After he was done with his tour of duty he decided to stay in the Capital City.

The Tar Heel turned Jayhawk started his racing career in 1956 with a 1936 Plymouth he bought for a whooping $12.50! He first raced at Windy Hill Raceway in Maple Hill, Kansas. Those early races resulted in his car upside down about as much time as it was right-side up, according to Thad. Besides Windy Hill, the young racer would cut his teeth at other tracks, including Shawnee Speedway, East of Topeka, Riverside Speedway in North KC, and Savannah Speedway in Savannah, Missouri, where Thad would take his first track title in 1960.

By 1961, super modified racing had taken over the Heartland region. The Topeka Fairgrounds would become a big part of this racing scene running every Friday night during the season. The first big super modified race to be run at the Mid America Fairgrounds was named the "Jayhawk Nationals". and became a featured event for decades to come. Thad Dosher, driving for Duane Vobach in his number #15 super would win the inaugural event. His first of many big victories over the years in open wheel competition.

During Thad's career, there were many highs and lows. For several years after his first big win at Topeka, Dosher remained in relative obscurity. In 1967 that would change in a monumental way.

Luther Brewer was one of the top builders and owners of super modifieds in the Heartland. Brewer's relationship with driver Ray Lee Goodwin led to multiple track championships, and several feature wins during the 1960's. In 1967, the race team of Goodwin and Brewer were having an outstanding campaign. At the mid-point of the season, Luther decided to build a new super for Ray Lee. In turn, Brewer sold his old car to veteran midget owner Jack Cunningham. Topeka’s Dosher would become the new driver for Cunningham's car for the Knoxville Nationals in August, the biggest super modified race of the year.

“Little Joe” Saldana of Lincoln was the favorite to win the Knoxville Nationals in 1967 in his version of the "Mechanical Rabbit" roadster. Saldana set the bar early by posting a new track record in qualifying. Dosher, meanwhile, adapted quickly to his new ride winning the Thursday night qualifier. On Saturday night in the finale, Little Joe was the class of the field, leading the feature while Dosher dueled with "Tiger" Bob Williams for second place.
Unfortunately for Saldana he lost a wheel on the 14Th lap of the feature. Dosher took over the top spot, and went on to lead the rest of the race, earning almost 3,000 dollars for the victory. And the coveted title of winning the Knoxville Nationals.

In 1968, Thad tied with Dick Sutcliffe for the track championship at the Topeka Fairgrounds in his own #74. Thad also drove his white sprinter with Lavender trim in BCRA and IMCA races. Dosher picked the number #74, because it was used on his winning ride at Knoxville in 1967. This car had a great history in the sprint car ranks racing across America. Originally built by Willie Davis in California for owner Clem Tebow, it ran in the early 1960's in USAC as the C&T Automotive Special before later being sold and raced successfully by Greg Weld in 1965 in USAC, and then in turn being sold to Bill Hoback, who raced it on the BCRA, IMCA, and USAC circuits with Gordon Woolley, Buddy Cagle, and Jon Backlund, before selling it to Dosher in 1968.

A couple years later in 1970, Thad had one of his best seasons ever in open wheel competition. Dosher would team up with Gary Hanna, the previous owner for Dick Sutcliffe, who drove Gary’s black #29 sprint/super to many wins in the late 1960’s before Hanna sold the car to the farmers (R&H Farms) of Williams, Iowa. While also getting Sutcliffe as well.

Without a car or a driver now, Hanna in turn bought the Jack Cunningham owned #14 super sprint that had won 46 races and three track championships in 1969 with "Tiger" Bob Williams. This car also happened to be the former super modified that Thad raced to the Knoxville Nationals win in 1967. Reunited with his old car, Thad won the Topeka track title, and the "Jayhawk Nationals,” both for the second time in 1970.

The one thing missing from Thad's career at this point was a major sprint car championship. In 1972 Dosher teamed up with R&H Farms and mechanic Wayne House to race their beautiful new black #40 sprint car built by California’s Roger Beck.

At the end of the 1972 race season, Dosher, driving the R&H Farms machine, would finish 5th in IMCA points. Thad would take his first ever IMCA win at Lincoln, Nebraska, on September 2. That day was certainly one to remember for Dosher as he was reunited with the singing "Sausage King", Jimmy Dean.

Thad first met the crooner turned Breakfast Sausage Magnet in 1962. In an interview conducted before the start of the feature, the country superstar called Thad out, saying “I’m rooting for Thad Dosher in the main event!” But also that he (Dean) had bet the house, the car, the wife, and dog on him to win!” The crowd roared with laughter at Dean's declaration, and Dosher didn't disappoint, winning the race going away! The momentum from that win, and season would continue over to the next year.

In 1973, the race season started as it always did in those days with the IMCA Winter-Nationals in Tampa, FL. In February.

From the drop of the first green flag, the R&H Farms team showed they would be a contender for the IMCA National championship in 1973. Over the five races contested at Plant Field that Winter, Thad finished second twice, third once, and fourth which was no easy task as the best in the nation always came to Florida during that time. And that occasion was no exception as Dosher went toe-to-toe against Kenny Weld and Jan Opperman, among others, when they're at the peak of their rivalry during the five-race Tampa showdown.

Returning to the Heartland, Thad got his first big win of 1973 at Wakeeney, KS. in BCRA action, besting Grady Wade in the Nance #1. In IMCA competition, Dosher won at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Lincoln again, and Spencer, Iowa. In the 20 dirt races held by IMCA that year, Thad finished in the top five eleven times. That consistency took Dosher to the IMCA National Championship in 1973. winning the prestigious title over Gene Gennetten, Bill Utz, Ray Lee Goodwin, and Buzz Rose rounding out the top-five in points.

Over the next few years, Thad cut back on his racing activities, but still had some great moments. In 1974, Dosher raced in the USAC Dirt Car Division, finishing 7Th at Sedalia in the Don Duerst #56. And, in 1974 ,Thad won another IMCA Sprint feature at Oklahoma City in the R&H Farms Sprinter, while finishing 7Th in the NCRA Super Modified Winternationals at Enid, Oklahoma.

For 1975, Thad teamed up with Bobby Hillin to run his Longhorn racing #48 sprinter in USAC competition. Dosher raced in 10 events in USAC sprints while finishing in the top 10 four times with 7th place runs at Reading, and Terre Haute at the top of his best runs.

After 1975 Dosher raced sparingly in the USAC Dirt Car Division, and the NCRA, finishing 6th place at Dewey, Oklahoma, in a NCRA Super Modified for his best result while also racing occasionally in sprints and midgets before retiring for good as a open wheel racing star.

The long time sheet-metal worker was later elected to the Knoxville Raceway HOF in 1979, The BCRA HOF in 2011, the National Sprint Car HOF in 2012, the High Banks HOF in 2018, and the CARB HOF for 2021. A list of post career accolades that Dosher felt very honored to receive.

Thad Dosher, the 1967 Knoxville Nationals winner, and the 1973 IMCA Champ, retired and moved back to his native North Carolina, living just a few miles from where he was born.

Back home, Dosher enjoyed the simple pleasures of small town living after many race fans over the years enjoyed watching this legendary driver race and win for a big part of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.

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